Monday 17 January, 2022, by John Sprague
As Crabs skipper Toby Woods remarked after the game "I can’t say how we won that game but we did". And indeed that was very much the opinion of the Salcombe faithful on the touchline. This was a dour struggle between two very evenly matched sides where defence dominated and neither side appeared to have much of an attacking game plan. The referee’s whistle was probably the most constant feature of the match and to Salcombe ears it always seemed to be to Old Tech’s advantage.
While it is a long established sport for teams outside Plymouth to accuse Plymouth Society refs of bias, how can you criticise a ref who awarded the Crabs a penalty try and then in the last seconds of injury time a penalty close to the sticks. Up stepped hero of the minute Lee Clarke to make the kick good as the final whistle went. Lee had been engaged in a number of earnest discussions with Old Tech players and the referee throughout the match and might count himself lucky not to have been yellow carded at some point. On the touch line we feared his kicking concentration might not be all it should be. O we of little faith!
Its very hard to pull out any particular features of the game other than this was the second Crabs’ away win in Plymouth in 2 weeks, the first double the Crabs have achieved this season and that yet again they went away with a full side including their 5 subs amongst whom 3 were potential front row replacements.
The game settled down to a mid park battle with Salcombe struggling somewhat against a heavier pack but still able to get sufficient possession to give their backs the occasional run. Old Techs relied on kicking to get them field position and playing downhill in the first half they used their bottom corner well. Eventually after a number of attempts they managed to bundle one of their forwards over for an unconverted try. This was soon followed by a penalty to give the home side an 8-0 lead at half time.
In the second half Salcombe became more enterprising with some penetrating runs from Jordan Tebb and Liam Wills. Mark Parnowski at full back elected to run from deep on one occasion before handing on to Sam Wilkins on the wing who used his pace to take play down into the Old Tech’s 22 before being taken out by a beautiful cover tackle.
Play gradually became confined largely to the Old Techs 22 and despite squandering a couple of good chances Salcombe were eventually awarded a penalty try as the player going over was high tackled to make the score 7-8 to the home side. Cue frenzy on both sides as the final whistle loomed and despair for Old Techs as they conceded the penalty for Clarke to seal the match.